She was sitting alone on a lounge chair in the hotel pool area.
Her hair was dusty red. She had beautiful emerald-colored eyes. I would guess she was in her late 50s. She was wrapped in a beach towel patiently waiting while the maintenance man put the final touches on cleaning the pool. As she waited, it looked like she was meditating.
It was exactly 7 a.m., the time the pool was to open for the hotel guests. The pool maintenance man was doing his last skimming of palm tree debris and leaves from the water. When I opened the squeaky entrance gate to the pool area, she turned to look to see who it was.
Because she sat next to the entrance gate, I had to walk past her to sit at the far end of the pool patio area. I wanted to make sure she knew I wasn’t a serial killer or worse and that she knew her intentions were just like mine — a morning swim. As I walked past her, she said “Good morning.” But it wasn’t a normal good morning. There was a thickness and unusual rhythm, almost as though she were singing “Good morning” to me. I did not recognize the origin of her obvious accent.
I responded in kind. As I continued my walk to the far end of the pool area, she asked if last night’s weather was normal for Santa Barbara. When we'd arrived in Santa Barbara the night before at 8:30 p.m., our car temperature gauge read 104 degrees. Yep, you read it right, 104 degrees. The wind gusts must have been 30 to 40 miles per hour.
The average year-round temperature for Santa Barbara is about 70 degrees. So, no, 104 degrees in the evening anywhere on the California southern beaches is definitely abnormal, I explained. My children were saying the hot weather must be a sign of the coming apocalypse and to keep an eye out for swarms of locust or a tsunami.
Our hotel had a totally unobstructed view of the beach and Stearns Wharf. So you might have expected a nice ocean breeze to help cool down this beautiful resort town, but instead, it was like a heater blowing hot air. Do you remember that before there was air conditioning in your vehicle, the only relief during the hot summer was to roll down your window and stick your head out? We have had lots of hot summer evenings here in Bakersfield but I don’t ever remember it being 104 degrees at 8:30 in the evening here in the valley.
She explained to me that she, her husband and another couple were on “holiday” from Dublin, Ireland. That explained her rich accent.
In the next 5 minutes I learned a great deal about Mrs. Dublin. She is a mother of identical twin boys who are 15 years old. Since I am the father of twin boys, Sean and Aaron, Mrs. Dublin and I had lots to share. We asked each other many twin questions that would be only of interest to parents of twins. She had an extremely calming persona.
I must admit, as much as I enjoyed her sharing her personal stories, it was her accent I enjoyed most. I must also admit I was almost afraid to look into her stunning emerald eyes. All I could think about was the curse of Medusa from Greek mythology.
I know I need counseling but I find it fascinating that two strangers who live 5,200 miles apart, with no preconception of race, country of origin or political persuasion could so quickly become connected and comfortable with each other.
Mrs. Dublin and her husband and friends were on their way to Malibu next. They would eventually end up in San Diego before heading back to Ireland.
We finished our conversation and our swim laps, then I sadly said goodbye to Mrs. Dublin.
There was a serene quality to her that enveloped me. I wish I could have world leaders sit poolside with Mrs. Dublin. I know there would be more peace, love and harmony. Anyone think our world needs more of those qualities?
Safe travels, Mrs. Dublin.
Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work normally appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.